Having recently discovered the comedic directing abilities of Javier Ruiz Caldera via the very entertaining Spy Time, it was brilliant to find another film by this director on Netflix; Ghost Graduation. This fantasy/comedy offering (original title Promoción Fantasma) from Spain has a ghost busting teacher who helps some dead students get out of school forever.
Modesto (Raúl Arévalo) learns at an early age that he can see and interact with dead people. Unlike the kid in The Sixth Sense, the departed that Modesto interacts with look like everyday people. These are normal looking and look nothing like the grim ghosts in M Night Shyamalan’s film.
The young man grows up to be a teacher who is fired from every school he finds employment with. His social skills are mainly to blame as he isolates himself. Modesto attends therapy sessions and is told there are no ghosts and that he is gay.
The teacher hires on at Monforte, a school plagued by inexplicable events The school has an opening after s a literature teacher is flung out an upper story window. The events are caused by a group of dead former students who have failed to move on.
The quintet of deceased “Breakfast Club” members is comprised of stereotypes that work very well for the comedy. The school bad boy – Dani (Àlex Maruny), the Jock – Jorge (Jaime Olías), the party animal – Pink Floyd (Javier Bódalo), the loose girl – Marivi – (Andrea Duro) and the good girl – Angela (Anna Castillo).
The comedy begins in earnest when Modesto is hired as the new literature teacher. The rest of the film deals with his burgeoning romance with Tina, played by Alexandra Jiménez who worked with director Caldera in Spy Time. The school’s headmistress has a thorn in her side with school council president Ortegui (Carlos Areces) who has a surprising connection to one of the ghostly students.
Ghost Graduation does what any really good comedy should do. It makes one laugh and cry. The film also shows that students are pretty much the same all over the world. The five ghosts of the school died during a 1990s Christmas party. The deceased were five students who were in detention in the library and they all perished in a fire. The kids are stuck at the school until they can move on.
The comedy is contagious, from the ghostly students freaking out that the new teacher can see and hear them to Modesto’s reactions to his surroundings, it is all good fun. In terms of violence there is very little; a teacher thrown out a window twice is all there is. There is some partial nudity but no sex and no foul language in the subtitles.
The director show the same skillful handling of this comedic feature film that he demonstrated in Spy Time. Ghost Graduation is fast paced and at 88 minutes speeds by with all the momentum of a bullet train.
The film looks good, in terms of CG, except for the “vomiting” sequences where Pink Floyd spews copious amounts of pink liquid. The character died drunk and stayed drunk.
Arévalo is spot on as the social inept Modesto whose confidence grows as the film progresses. Jiménez plays the beleaguered school head very well and apart from being stunning, has comedy chops to spare. The actors playing the students were brilliant and for those who may have only discovered Anna Castillo; keep an eye on this one.
Caldera has adroitly handled two comedy offering out of a possible three. The last film, Three Many Weddings is the 2013 offering from a trio of films that began with Ghost Graduation. The Spanish movie is subtitled but this takes nothing from the enjoyment of this comedic haunted school tale.
This was another 5 star film from a director who won this reviewer over on Spy Time and had now solidified a reputation of being able to effortlessly do comedy. Streaming on Netflix watch this one. Now.